The enterprise Wi-Fi market is a hotly contested one with expensive offerings from companies such as Aruba Networks and Ruckus Wireless being the preferred choice of many IT administrators. Primary requirements for products in this market are the ability to support high client device densities and the provision of a robust and flexible management interface. Traditional consumer Wi-Fi vendors have also started expanding their offerings in this growing market segment. Last week, Netgear and ZyXEL introduced a few WLAN solutions targeting the enterprise space.

Netgear's ProSAFE lineup is quite popular in the SMB space, and the new wireless controller as well as the wall-mount access point are being marketed under this brand name. The newly introduced products include the ProSAFE WC600 wireless controller (with support for centralized management of all of Netgear's business-grade managed access points - single / dual-band and 2x2/3x3 solutions) and the ProSAFE WN370 wall mount access point with Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities.

The WC7600 can support up to 150 access points and licensing can be purchased in sets of 10 access points. The WN370 is a single-band 802.11n access point designed for in-room wired and wireless access. In addition to the wireless capabilities, the unit has a 1 Gbps uplink, 4x 100 Mbps Ethernet data ports and an additional voice port for VoIP digital phones. RF and power tuning, as well as wireless security, are handled by the WC7600 wireless controller. Netgear also has other dual-band standalone APs such as the WNDAP620 and WNDAP660 which can now be managed with the new wireless controller. Pricing for the WC7600 comes in at $3079 for 2 access point licenses. A license for 10 access points comes in at $1056. The WN370 access point will sell for $219.

ZyXEL is targeting the same market with the NCX5500 WLAN controller and the NWA5301-NJ PoE access point. The NCX5500 is priced a bit higher at $3399, but it also supports more access points (512, compared to 150 in the Netgear WC7600). While the NCX5500 has 6 GbE ports, the WC7600 has two 1/10G SFP+ ports for data uplink and a 1G RJ-45 port for management. ZyXEL implements specialized algorithms to maximize Wi-Fi availability as well as ensure spectrum utilization efficiency. The NWA5301-NJ is a single-band 2x2 802.11n access point priced at $139. It has a 100 Mbps uplink and three 100 Mbps downlink ports (one of which is PoE-capable and can be used for VoIP phones).

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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    On the subject of enterprise wifi...

    Does anyone know what type of antenna is used in flat ceiling mounted access points? Standard dipole antennas won't work because they need to be oriented vertically to get a proper beam pattern.
  • Warriors - Friday, May 30, 2014 - link

    Generally, the ceiling mounted AP has antenna pattern that is optimized to point downward to the floor, if you mount the AP correctly on the ceiling. It has better coverage than dipole antennas
  • bigdavethewave - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    Ruckus Wireless has a WLAN controller solution for under $1,000 and the per AP price to license is still less than this what is listed here. Perhaps the Netgear and ZyXEL is actually the more expensive solution.
  • Warriors - Friday, May 30, 2014 - link

    NETGEAR also has an entry level controller WC7520 that is less than $1000, and competes more directly with the Ruckus WLAN controller. The NETGEAR AP's are also less expensive (50% of the cost) than Ruckus. So overall, NETGEAR's solution is much more affordable
  • kwrzesien - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    So I need some advice here, I'm running a NETGEAR FVS318G at home with Charter 30M/5M service and seem to only get 15M down through the router but get 30M down when direct connecting my desktop to the cable modem. For a while I've been content with this limitation because the 318 has kept my hard-wired network rock solid with uptimes of over a year between intentional reboots, which couldn't be said for my old Netgear N wireless router which has now be relegated to AP and switch duties. However I have noticed that running a Steam download on my desktop can pretty much tie-up the internet connection and even make the 318 unresponsive in the Admin control panel so there is something getting overwhelmed by the most basic of high-speed file transfers. Other users basically get no bandwidth during this time. What is it doing? Is it the CPU in the router? It does say it is limited to 25Mbps so I can't blame the product for having a limitation but I didn't expect it to be so bad at handling itself and other clients during peak activity.

    So I'm looking at getting a new router and don't really use any of the fancy features (VPN, DMZ) but do want support for at least 60M download speeds (Charter Spectrum is on the way) and would also be interested in one or more business class AP's that are 2x2 ac or better. Any thoughts? My usual shopping techniques just don't seem to be finding any great solutions - Ubiquiti seems to have some good solutions, are they worth the investment?
  • kwrzesien - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    To clarify the cable modem and router are in a basement with gigabit wired connections to several switches around the house including the old wireless N box on the main floor. So the FVS318G is nice because it is just wired (no wireless) and has an eight port gigabit switch. I don't really need a wireless AP in the basement, but that would be an option if I also put a new main AP on the 2nd floor.
  • Conficio - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    You might experience #bufferbloat with your download stream tight up.
  • oloap88 - Saturday, July 19, 2014 - link

    I don't like Netgear for enterprise solutions, and the price is mmm quite too high. 1000$ for 10 AP is a joke.
    point is that is clearly targeting small companies (2 ap licenses included) wich usually don't need a wlc at all...
    Zyxel though is way better imho, Always had good experiences with their products, only thing it lacks sfp+ but still i don't really see them as a must in small environments.
    For larger scenarios, i would never dare to advise anything but cisco stuff anyway, just for spare parts compatibility and ease of use, also because there is tons of stuff online of tested solutions, meaning i don't have to fail myself as i can learn from Others.

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